Maybe the third time will be the charm.
Mayor Ivy Taylor said Friday that there’s a demand for transportation-network companies in San Antonio and signaled that she wants to work a new deal that would allow Uber and Lyft to restart operations here.
Taylor told the City Council during an all-day retreat that she has directed City Manager Sheryl Sculley to develop a plan for bringing the transportation-network companies, or TNCs, back to San Antonio while the council is on summer break next month. The council met for team-building Friday at Hardberger Park on the North Side.
“We’ve never wanted them to leave,” Taylor said in a Friday interview. “We’ve always wanted Uber and Lyft to be here.”
The ride-hailing firms, however, disagreed. After operating in San Antonio for about a year without regulation, the companies shuttered when the City Council approved policies that the companies found too onerous.
City officials thought they’d come to an agreement with the companies when they approved the updated ordinance, but unresolved concerns over how background checks on drivers would be conducted ultimately drove the companies out of town. The taxi industry lauded the council’s decision, saying “public safety” won the day.
“I am directing the city manager to develop a framework for operating agreements which would allow for TNCs to return to San Antonio during a pilot period,” she said. “This framework will be brought to council for review the second week of August and action thereafter. I have asked Councilman (Roberto) Treviño to be the council representative during this process.
“It is important that we get this issue resolved soon, and I do not want the work to stop during the month of July. Safety will still be a top priority for all of us, and that won’t change.” she said.
Taylor said a data-driven discussion about the merits of the firms’ background checks had been missing from previous discussions. She said she wants to delve deeper into that.
Uber spokeswoman Debbee Hancock said Friday that company officials are looking forward to restarting discussions in San Antonio.
“We are heartened to hear that Mayor Taylor has made it a top priority to bring back ridesharing this summer,” she said. “And we are excited to continue working with the mayor and City Council to make this a reality.”
See here and here for some background. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff is a fan of Uber and Lyft, and the other cities in the county have explored having them operate in the non-SA parts of the county, so there was some pressure on Mayor Taylor beyond the tech/millennial community in town to revisit this. We’ll see what happens. The Rivard Report and the Current have more.